Saturday, January 12, 2013

Another song that ...

...He's mad as he can be, but Margaret only sees that sometimes.
Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes.

Let us go to the banks of the ocean,
Where the walls rise above the Zuider Zee.
Long ago, I used to be a young man.
And dear Margaret remembers that for me.
Cleveland is blessed with great non-commercial radio. Now, the only good commercial radio station in the county, WCLV 104.7 (my fingers want to type 95.5) has become part of public radio. Most of that is college radio. All the nationality programmes are important for their communities. The diversity on these stations have their audiences that are not served by Clear Channel, and the few others.

Saturday mornings, for years i have tried to catch WRUW's Jimmie Wilson's Roll Away the Dew, before that WCSB's Steve Traina's folk programme (it describes itself: Lyric-intensive folk music with a message or two). And they are not alone: WJCU has Uncle Fred (A few months back, i was in a friend's car, and it just passed 9 p.m. Sunday. I said, "it's time for Emmy Lou", and turned the radio to 88.7.  Says he to me, "How did you know?".  He always starts with Emmy Lou. All of these guys love Emmy Lou, and damn, they should); WCSB also has Timmie the Hippie; WRUW had When the Roses Bloom Again, the host 'Cousin Dave' died and his side kick inherited the show, eventually he changed the name to Laying Down Tracks; and there is Bill Kennedy's Sweeney Astray; and some others. These fellows have played this music for many years.

Many of the lyrics, that i have quoted, (and, b, c), come from this genre. Many of these songs were of the last generation. Now many of their songs have been covered by newer singers. To-day, Jimmie Wilson played Mara Levine singing, The Dutchman. Steve Goodman recorded this on his second album, Somebody Else's Troubles 1973. He changed tempi over performances. Michael Peter Smith wrote it in 1968. I first heard Goodman sing it over WCLV, many years ago. I and many thought he wrote it, just as many thought Arlo Guthrie wrote Goodman's City of New Orleans. The Dutchman has been covered by many, yet being wonderful, it has a limited audience. It is always a great song.

Well, what i am getting at, is the poignant beauty of the song. The chorus is simple, sweet, melodic and melancholic. It is sung by the Dutchman, the narrator sings the verses. The first half sets the scene (as in so many folk songs), then the pathos—Long ago, I used to be a young man. This can be said by so many, and it is always wistful and sad: so many years gone; vitality often gone; loss. The next line is sweet, by itself, and coupled with Margaret's lyrics (especially the last two lines of the first verse) it is great, great, love. And dear Margaret remembers that for me/He's mad as he can be, but Margaret only sees that sometimes. The Dutchman's sanity is only sometimes there, but she remembers him as he once was, and she takes care of him now, now when he can not. They have spent many years together, more than they had before they met, and she has to carry both of them.

Smith, who had not known before to-day, i saw and heard on youtube, and read a biography on Wikipedia, and found a page of his lyrics. Well, there is a bunch, and i only skimmed. His breadth and frame reminds me of the poet Billy Collins. In the wiki article, it mentions Smith's catholicity. Just over a few glances, i say, "yes".

And the line that puts the song over the top is: Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes. They did not have children, they both wanted. Love, sadness, loss, togetherness, union, that which is not and should be. This is a song that makes one cry. Emotion brings tears, and the flow is some catharsis.

It is a pro-Life song. [And several times, i have thought of going to the January march in the District (as i also thought of going to Columbus Georgia in November), but it being Inauguration, the crazy quotient will be up (the monomania, often hypocritical, and allied to nuttery—i can no longer stomach). Perhaps, this aside greatly detracts.] I do not know who realises it, but it is.

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